The Sun Never Rises: Review of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises | Teen Ink

The Sun Never Rises: Review of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

June 2, 2022
By Shiki_Shi BRONZE, Pelham, Alabama
Shiki_Shi BRONZE, Pelham, Alabama
4 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
I shall be an intellectual who bears a why for any how.


The title of the novel, The Sun Also Rises, directly refers to one scene: the rise of the sun and the fall of the moon. The moon and the sun are embodiments of eternity in literature. These two celestial bodies seem to be everlastingly hung above human beings' heads, and their tedious appearance and disappearance are to occur endlessly. The recurring pattern of the sun, which appears during the day and disappears during the night, naturally creates some order that guides creatures on the earth to obey. For example, people have to work when the sun is up and sleep when the sun is down. In short, Hemingway instills the pattern — the endless cycle of day and night — in his novel The Sun Also Rises. This pattern provides his audience with a dramatic interlude demonstrating the rise and fall, the up and down, and the beginning and the end of monotonous repetitions of events in daily life. To further illustrate the idea of repetition, the story centers around Jake Barnes and his high-profile intellectual fellows, particularly Robert Cohn. Mr. Cohn, at the beginning of the novel, starts to be obsessed with Lady Ashley and, at the end of the story, gives up a relationship with Lady Ashley as he gets disliked and rejected by his beloved Lady Ashley. Despite undergoing a series of events, the characters in Hemingway's novel don't specifically overcome any dilemma nor receive something or learn any lesson as takeaways from the whole fiesta. Instead, the story appears to be a dream shared by different people who wake up the next day and continue their regular lives. As Cohn eventually goes back to Paris to find his fiancée, and Brett leaves the bullfighter, Romero, seeking comfort in Jake's arms, derails dreams as people return to their regular trails, creating the feeling of harmony, which is to the surprise of Hemingway. Hemingway shapes the story by projecting his personal experiences and personality into, most likely, Robert Cohn, as both Cohn and Hemingway are boxers and writers with stern and stubborn characters. As a lifelong fighter, Hemingway is at odds with the submissive attitude toward subjugating himself in front of his life, regardless of pain, torture, and distress. Nevertheless, The Sun Also Rises subtly conveys audience a compromising acceptance, which Hemingway does not foresee. 


On top of that, the main character Jake Barnes plays a central role throughout the story to illustrate Hemingway's implicit themes. One theme, Hemingway's anti-war sentiment, correlates directly with Jake Barnes's impotence and plays out ironically when readers discover it. (What's more intriguing is that before I read the story, I already knew that Jake was impotent, and his physical imperfection resulted from his participation in WWI. So, as a reader with insider knowledge beforehand, I was intentionally searching for the very evidence, regardless of any type, that indicates Jake's impotence.) Implicitly stated in the texts, Jake Barnes once attended WWI and lost his ability to perform natural obligations. His wound gained from the war, which causes him to be impotent, can nevertheless be seen as glory scars that epitomize one's glory and fortune to survive after a war. Yet it is clear that Jake's past scar only brings him shame and burden rather than pride or glory. His impotence womanizes him, making his male features decline, such as his masculinity, toughness, and, most importantly, males' built-in biological attractiveness to females, which is purely for the sake of breeding. (To clarify, I was writing purely about people's typical perception of man's physical characteristics. I am neither gender-biased nor someone who thinks a woman can't equip these faculties) Furthermore, his loss of ability to conduct sexual intercourse makes him even an incompetent individual, resulting in his indifferent attitude, or more precisely, his incapability to react when his adored woman, Brett, goes on a romantic affair with a young bullfighter. Although Jake survives the Great War, he eternally suffers his loss of masculinity, which is a total irony and a solid counterargument for whoever calls war a place that creates a strong man.


Lastly, I want to talk about one scene which impresses me the most during my reading process. First and foremost, Romero, as a young and bright bullfighter, grabs my attention when I find out he is also a strong-minded, resilient, and audacious man. More essentially, his existence in the story appears to be a foil character to Jake Barnes, the center of the whole book. Romero is young and full of potential, whereas Jake is middle-aged and sexually impotent. Moreover, both Romero and Jake are deeply attached to Brett, but Romero shows more magnetism, and his charm makes Brett obsessed with him. Finally, it seems like Romero is victorious, and even if he is beaten down by Cohn repetitively, he will certainly get up and hit back again and again.



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